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ZimRights director launches fresh freedom bid
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

Janaury 17, 2013

Lawyers representing Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZIMRIGHTS) Director Okay Machisa on Thursday 17 January 2013 launched a fresh freedom bid after filing a bail application in the High Court seeking his release from prison, where he was condemned to on Tuesday 15 January 2013.

Machisa's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa on Thursday filed an appeal in the High Court against Harare Magistrate Tendai Mahwe's refusal to grant bail to the ZimRights director. Magistrate Mahwe on Wednesday 16 January 2013 denied Machisa bail and remanded him to 30 January 2013 after ruling that he was facing a serious offence which is of "national interest" and hence should be in prison custody to allow for some "complex investigations" without interference.

In her application, Mtetwa argued that Magistrate Mahwe erred and grossly misdirected himself when he concluded that there was reasonable suspicion justifying the placement of Machisa on remand. Mtetwa argued that the Magistrate failed to consider and properly take into account the fact that the Form 242 (Request for Remand Form) and its contents did not speak to the facts in the annexures tabled in court. She said Magistrate Mahwe failed to consider and properly make findings on the fact that the annexures to the Form 242 related entirely to Machisa in his alleged representative capacity. Magistrate Mahwe, Mtetwa said further erred and misdirected himself when he found that there was a link between the ZimRights director and the suspects in a different case.

Mtetwa wants the High Court to issue an order admitting Machisa on $500 bail and to surrender his passport to the Clerk of court together with reporting at CID Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station once every week on Friday.

The bail application is yet to be set down for hearing.

Machisa was arrested on Monday 14 January 2013 and charged with contravening Section 31, 136 and 137 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly attempting to defraud the Registrar General's Office by forging and manufacturing counterfeit copies of certificates of voter registration.

His arrest followed the apprehension of Leo Chamwahwinya, the ZimRights Education Programmes Manager, who was arrested on 13 December 2012 together with Dorcas Shereni, the ZimRights Highfields Local Chapter Chairperson and Farai Bhani and Tatenda Chinaka, whom he charged are not connected to the grassroots human rights organisation.

Besides dismissing Machisa's bail petition, Magistrate Mahwe also threw out his application for refusal of remand.

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